A $116,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will expand the reach of paleontology studies at Fort Hays State University’s Sternberg Museum of Natural History, 3000 Sternberg Drive.
“The grant will allow the Sternberg Museum to hire FHSU graduate and undergraduate students to work in the paleontology collection and to purchase imaging equipment,” said Dr. Laura Wilson, curator of paleontology and assistant professor of geosciences. “Eventually, specimen data, images, and geographical and temporal information will be published online in research databases and used for the development of Web- and classroom-based educational materials.”
The three-year grant is under NSF’s Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections program, which includes digitizing and geo-referencing a portion of the paleontology collection for research and education use nationally.
Wilson, the principal investigator for the grant, said the project is called “The Cretaceous World: Digitizing Fossils to Reconstruct Evolving Ecosystems in the Western Interior Seaways.”
“Specifically, the project focuses on fossils from the Western Interior Seaway – the ocean that covered the middle of North America, including Kansas, 100 to 66 million years ago,” she said.
The Sternberg Museum’s efforts are part of a $2.1 million collaboration grant to eight institutions: Yale University, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the University of Kansas, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of New Mexico, San Jose State University, San Jose, Calif., and Fort Hays State.
The Sternberg Museum has a “phenomenal fossil collection, especially of the specimens representing life in the Western Interior Seaway,” said Wilson. “This grant provides us the opportunity to increase the scientific and educational potential of the collection by improving the quality of and access to specimens and specimen data.”
To lean more about the Sternberg Museum’s current paleontology collection, visit http://sternberg.fhsu.edu/research-collections/collections/paleontology/.